“I am almost a hundred years old; waiting for the end and thinking about the beginning.
“There are things I need to tell you, but would you listen if I told you how quickly time passes?
“I know that you are unable to imagine this.
“Nevertheless, I can tell you that you will awake someday to find that your life has rushed by at a speed once impossible and cruel. The most intense moments will seemed to have occurred only yesterday and nothing will have erased the pain and pleasure, the impossible intensity of love and its dog-leaping happiness, the deep blackness of passions unrequited, or unexpressed, or unresolved.
“And still the brain continues to yearn, continues to burn, foolishly with desire. My old man’s brain is mocked by a body that still longs to stretch in the sun and form a beautiful shape in someone else’s gaze, to lie under a blue sky and dream of helpless, selfless love, to behold itself, illuminated, in the golden light of another’s eyes.
“Time erodes us all.”
[“What I Was,” Meg Rosoff, p.205]
There is this little thing called “unconditional love” – this strange, alien, seemingly unattainable thing. To love, unconditionally. To be loved, unconditionally.
Over the last few months, I’ve been made to realize – forced to confront – how very far from this strange, little, glorious, horrible thing I fall. It pains me greatly, daily, this shortcoming, this failure of mine – it is never, ever just about me when such a failing is made real. This isn’t sentimentalism, BTW. It is diminishment all around, however.
Considering an other, one beloved of God, before myself – well, I like to believe it so. How in the world to pick back up, again? Yet, here I am.
We all imagine ourselves to be capable of such a thing, right? I strive for it, but in the end my conditioning in this narcissistic culture of ours, my fear, my faithlessness, my selfishness – all of it – wins the day, and that which gives contentment, gives honest peace, gives life-to-the-full (all for the sake of the other, and to be realized myself as a result) is put off further down the road… so many more miles down the road. It is never, ever just about me.
And we all lose out on a bit more… love. If I want to find my true life, I have to lose my life – give it away. So say we all. Right? How strange, how alien in our day (in any human day), is this unconditional love. I want to try, again.
On Facebook, where the above was first posted, a good friend of High School days responded, and I responded…
Lynn Duskey Gagnon – Most of the worlds greatest literature examines this very longing. I suspect, Bob, you are farther along on this path than you think. . .probably farther along at seeking it than most, and closer to it for the contemplation of it. I do a disservice to those around me by shying away from thinking too deeply about unconditional love, lest I fall into a great abyss of depression at what I might find. After all, is it really possible for humans, or is unconditional love strictly divine?
Bob Griffith – My goodness, Lynn Duskey Gagnon, from disco lessons to wondering whether unconditional love can only be of the Divine. It has taken us a long time to get here, I suppose. I remember when, and correct me if I am wrong, you pulled out of acting as a career partly because of things teachers required of you – limits you would not cross, and rightfully so for you at the time. When I was thinking about the same career path, I wonder now about where my own limits might have fallen – or actually fallen away. This thing about unconditional love – so hard to think of it beyond the conditional… how we’ve been conditioned to understand “love” and the giving and receiving of it. Is there a reckless abandon concerning love that we must give ourselves to, beyond what is comfortable or conventional or expected or accepted in order to find the unconditional aspect of it all? Is that what makes great actors great? Is that what enables one to love, mightily? Is there a limit, a boundary when crossed over, that leads to something destructive, counter to what we truly desire – whether being a good actor or one who might be able to tap the Divine and taste but a bit of unconditional love?